Monday, August 19, 2013

Finally breaking radio silence--Part 1

Hey.  It's me.  Nell.  The other half of the shared pants.  I can't quite put a finger on why I've been so hesitant to write up until now.  The most successful blogs are filled with brutal honesty and people's innermost insights.  We, as a general public, love to see the human side of those "in the trenches" with us, and relate to their struggles and foibles.  While I love seeing that side in others, I usually am fairly content to keep my own true emotions and struggles sub-level, satisfying people with a feigned smile and a wave.  I worry that writing honestly on a blog will expose me far beyond what feels comfortable...and this imaginary smoke screen that "I've got it all put together" will dissipate.  Nevertheless, my better half has talked me into this endeavor.  Be gentle with me, I beg, as I share bits and pieces of our life, starting with our most recent hospital drama.

...

I never should have got on that plane.

It sat deep in my gut like a rock.  Anxiety.  Prickly and heavy, churning and twisting all morning as I tried to focus on the task at hand: laundry and packing.  Eva hadn't made life any easier for me.  Usually pretty unbothered when I leave for a few days as long as I bring home a good present, she pulled and yanked on my arms and shirt, uncharacteristically bemoaning my departure.  She carried on until the point of sobbing, begging me not to leave her.

"Eva, you'll be fine!  I'll be back on Sunday night.  You won't even miss me," I tried to reassure her quickly as I kissed her on top of her head and rushed out the door, not wanting to be late for my flight.  I wouldn't know until much later the regret that would be mine for being so dismissive.  I was making my yearly trek to my Grandma George's house--a tradition started by my cousin Cari.  We go for 3 or 4 days and take a break from motherhood and get spoiled by Grandma.  I always look forward to it, but for some reason, on this particular Thursday as I readied my luggage, I felt unsettled.  I even commented to Trevor in the car on the way to the airport how inconvenient it was that my stomach wouldn't calm down.  I got on the plane anyway, shoving the gut-rock as far down as possible, trying to be excited for my upcoming weekend.

Friday morning Trev called and said that Eva was sick and that he was taking her to instacare.  They sent him home without a second look or worry, saying nothing was wrong.  I was mildly concerned that Eva didn't feel well, but in no way alarmed.  Things escalated over the course of the day--her rib pain and fever increased and Trev decided to take her to the pediatrician.  He too was puzzled at a lack of "sick evidence", but instead of sending her home, followed his gut and sent them next door to the ER, just for peace of mind.  How grateful we are to Dr. Mumford for that.  Several different ultrasounds showed nothing.  I was about to go into the Columbia River Temple with my grandma and cousin at this point.  The working assumption was that perhaps Eva had a gall stone.  I shut off my phone and went in, thinking that this was a pretty crappy situation that Trev was having to deal with on his own.  I felt so bad for him, and bad for Eva, and minorly guilty that I wasn't there helping to shoulder this load.

It didn't take long for that old rock in the pit of my stomach to surface.  From the moment I sat down, the churning commenced, making it impossible for me to enjoy the peace and solace I am used to feeling in the temple.  The uneasiness grew, dredging up all kinds of crap in the witches brew now boiling up my insides.  Mild worry had turned frantic, and all I could think about was getting out and calling Trevor to check on my baby.  I practically bolted out the door, as soon as I was able, stopping only to say a quick prayer for Eva.  My fingers shook uncontrollably as I turned on my phone, waiting the eternal seconds for it to come back to life so I could call.

"Nell, they did a CT scan and found a spot on her liver.  They won't even touch it here and are sending her up to Primary Children's.  I talked them out of an ambulance ride and am driving her myself."  All I could think to say was, "Are you joking?!" even though I knew he wasn't.  Tears gushed out my eyes.  I couldn't see.  I couldn't think straight.  The rock expanded 10 fold, taking up every square inch of my body, leaving no room to breathe.  Shallow breathes were punctuated with small gasps as I struggled regaining my composure.  I had to be home.  Now.  "I'm coming home." Not a question, a statement.  "No, no..." Trevor soothed.  "It will be all right.  We don't even know what it is yet.  At least wait until the doctors have seen her." But I had made up my mind.  I struggled and pushed the emotion down deep as Trev at this point reminded me that we were on speaker phone, and Eva could hear me.  I managed a poorly disguised reassurance to Eva, told her I loved her, and said goodbye.  I hung up the phone and descended into the bleak blackness of uncertainty, sobbing uncontrollably as poor passerbys watched with sympathy.

This would be the longest night of my life.  Miraculously, the good folks at Delta changed my return flight to the first one out that morning--with no extra charges or fees attached.  How thankful I am for that.  But I still had all night to wait.  No sleep came.  The power was out so I didn't have the luxury of TV or my rapidly dying phone to distract me.  I sat against the wall with a small lantern, in the same room where my Grandpa died, and alone with my thoughts, contemplated life.  I spent most of those agonizing hours in prayer, riddled with guilt at the manner in which I had last left Eva, hoping I'd have a chance to make it up to her.  Unfortunately we have a family history of childhood liver cancer, and tending to often jump to worst-case-scenario, I imagined what life would be like if things didn't work out and we lost our sweet Birdie.  I asked for something, anything, to help me make it through, and like so many other times in my life, the peace of the Spirit rested in my heart for a few brief moments.  I knew everything would be okay.  I just didn't know what the "road to ok" would entail.

As the clock finally turned to 4:45 am, we left and headed to the airport.  Adrenaline pulsed through my veins and thudded in my ears.  Minor run-ins with a rodeo mother and ornery flight attendant nearly pushed me over the edge, as it was taking every ounce of strength to "keep it together."  I opted to sing primary songs in my head, a trick I'd learned as a kid.  (For those of you who know my singing voice, I assure you, I sing way better in my head than out loud.  Your loss.)  The only problem was that the only ones I could think of made me even more emotional:  "Heavenly Father, are you really there?  And do you hear and answer every child's prayer?"  Singing was out as I willed those tears to obey and stay put.  

After what seemed like the longest flight of my life, we touched down in Salt Lake and I booked it with all my luggage to my in-laws car.  I was finally on the homestretch of this awful separation.  I passed through the familiar hallways and elevators of Primary Children's in fast-motion.  The whole experience was quite surreal.  I know this hospital well.  We volunteered here as newly-weds, and still attend the yearly fundraising events KSL hosts.  Never before have I come with such a heavy heart.  My sweet baby's body lay in the bed as I came to the door.  It looked so small and vulnerable with all the cords and monitors.  But Eva managed a weak smile and called out "Mommy!" as soon as she saw me.  I immediately crawled into bed with her, pulled her close, and whispered that I loved her and had been trying to get to her all night.  She sighed, closed her eyes, burrowed into my chest and fell asleep.  Uncertainty still reigned.  But in that moment I had peace.  I was finally home.

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